Hope you had a Merry Fishmas
On Christmas Day, James and I went to Ueno Zoo. It was a short trip away and a good way to spend a lazy afternoon.
We saw lots of animals, especially some we hadn’t seen in other zoos. We saw a toucan (several of them actually), armadillos (one rolled up sleeping and another one running around everywhere), meerkats, a polar bear playing with a rubber cone, some lazy seals and a lot of birds. I think the cutest animals we saw were two nocturnal leopard cats who were chasing after each other.
That evening we went to eat ramen, which completely beats the ramen back at home. I think Sydney does a crappy job of veggie ramen, because a lot of the time it is like instant noodles and tastes terrible. It also has the tendency to make me feel sick. There are many different types of ramen broth, and eateries in Japan often specialise in only one or two types. Types include shio (generally just salt), miso (soy bean paste, like miso soup) and tonkatsu (pork).
I had dipping ramen (otherwise known as tsukumen) made with pork broth, and I loved the ramen because it actually had some flavour I could appreciate. I don’t normally like pork broth (I haven’t liked the taste of pork since before I became pescetarian), so I didn’t drink up all the soup.
On Boxing Day we went to Tokyo Disneyland. It was quite expensive at ¥6200, but we were curious as to what it was like, since it is such a popular tourist attraction. It wasn’t quite the fun and enjoyment we expected, particularly because of the lines. We couldn’t tell whether it was a school day or not. In Japan, I get the impression that a lot of school students wear their uniform even when they are not going to school. The place was completely packed, and all in all, there were more shops than actual rides. We went on a mountain ride that was a lot of fun, but we waited a total of two hours to get on the ride. The line was very long, with at least a hundred people in it at the one time. The ride was worth it, but after that, waiting in line was certainly not enjoyable. If Japanese people are used to waiting, they are certainly very patient. After walking around and seeing any sign that indicated a wait over thirty minutes, we weren’t interested. The signs were ridiculously accurate. We were going to go on a space shuttle ride but the wait was 130 minutes. The people who work there must surely be used to the long lines.
We walked in and out of gift and souvenir stores, mainly because I wanted a hat with Mickey Mouse ears to wear as a beanie. But they all looked pretty tacky and were overpriced. I expected that, but I guess the whole experience had overwhelmed me for a day. I already thought about going back home to an ordinary theme park, then it occurred to me that I don’t really like theme parks in general… someone will probably strap me to a rollercoaster for that statement. I do like the rollercoasters I have been on, though. Maybe I just don’t like waiting for rides. Ahhaa.
The day after that we went to Shinagawa Aquarium. It was marvellous, and more interesting than the one in Sydney. I liked the overall ambience of the place and it felt more lively. The Sydney one is a bit dark in comparison. You can see some of the fish photos I took below. The lighting made it quite a breeze to get these shots.
During our visit we saw a sea lion show. The sea lions caught hula hoops, threw basketballs into hoops and did handstands. There were also a couple of other demonstrations of feeding fish and watching fish swim through hoops to get food.
The next day we went to Mount Takao. My hip has been hurting for a week or two now, only when I walk uphill. I am fine walking long distances on level ground. I might get it checked out when I get back home. Mount Takao was very steep so I walked rather slow, but it felt good to be walking most of the way.
Since we arrived in Tokyo, we have been walking back to our apartment from Tokyo station. It is just a few kilometres, but is still a great and rewarding walk. :3
Yesterday we went to the rural town of Nikko, which is a town known for its cultural heritage with its shrines and temples, but mostly enjoyed the sights. Entry to the shrines was quite expensive so we just visited the garden and a small gallery of paintings and old historic artifacts. As usual, we browsed the shops around the area as well.
Most shops and eateries seem to be closed around new year, so we will have a few lazy days at the apartment making our own soba and cleaning up for our last few days at a hotel in Shinjuku. In Japan, not much is done for new year. There are no huge celebrations or countdowns, but the Japanese acknowledge and celebrate “firsts” such as the first sunrise (Hatsuhinode), first visit to a temple, first letters, and so on. New year is a time during which Japanese people mostly spend time with their families, welcoming in the new year and reminiscing over the year gone by.
Hope you had a Merry Fishmas. Love from your favourite pescetarian.